JA budget smartphone camera has become a way for many Rohingya people stuck in Bangladesh’s refugee camps to tell their own stories, capturing photos of their lives in the camps, which have become the largest in the world. when 700,000 people fled Myanmar’s army five years ago. , joining the 300,000 who had already sought refuge across the border.
These photographers, who are all under 30, are taking stock of the culture and traditions they fear losing so far from home, and have honed their skills through floods, fires and other times too frequent crises.
Their photographs have featured in international media and photography competitions. Sahat Zia Hero, one of many Rohingya photographers, published a book of his own work called Rohingyatography last year and followed it up by helping to create a magazine that publishes photos of other people he meets in the camps.
Until 2012, I studied at Sittwe University in Rakhine State. I had to ask for papers and permits from the government to go to checkpoints where they only searched Muslims. Even at university, I was discriminated against by students and even teachers. They hated us Rohingya.
When the riots happened, the violence meant there was no more education for the Rohingya. As I was returning to my village, I was detained for three days and beaten by the police. I didn’t leave after that. I supported my father by fishing, but I also bought a smartphone and a computer and that’s when I started my photography. It was illegal for us to own them, but I used them in the jungle, learning them from YouTube videos that I streamed using the Bangladeshi internet service at the border.
We are refugees due to genocide by the army, and now a million Rohingya live in refugee camps. Our goal is to highlight our crisis, to show the international community that genocide and persecution continue even without publicity.
Living in the camps is difficult, especially without education and freedom of movement. The camps are crowded. Nowhere is safe for the Rohingya right now.
The Covid-19 lockdown prevented international journalists from coming to the camps, but it encouraged Rohingya photographers to tell their own stories. Taking and sharing photos is a duty to my people, a way to use my passion for their well-being. It’s the best language – it speaks more than words and shows reality. I want the world to see the Rohingya as human beings, like everyone else, with our hopes and dreams, our sadness, our happiness and our grief.
Find Zia on Instagram @ziahero
I had never touched a smartphone until I passed my school exams in 2017. My brother gave me a smartphone to call my sister in Malaysia, but I thought why not start capturing memories and moments and the beauty of my surroundings. I could keep them in my phone as a story for future generations. Instead, only a few months later we had to leave our house due to military attacks and I took more photos as we escaped through the jungle.
Now I take pictures because it brings me joy – it can swing my mood from sadness to happiness. If I ever feel depressed or anxious, I take my camera, because at the moment of taking the picture, I am totally focused on this subject and not on my depression. I can’t really express the pleasure I feel when I share these photos with others, especially when they enjoy them.
I take pictures of everything that interests me – whether it’s animals, people, nature, food or something else; I just took the photo. Everything my eye sees, my camera does too.
Find Ishrat on Twitter: @IshratForiImran
The Rohingya lifestyle, our Myanmar cultural traditions and our creativity – I wanted to capture that, so I started taking photos and videos from inside the refugee camps. It’s my passion to tell the world about our lifestyle, so everywhere I go in the camps, I use my phone to take pictures.
I take pictures of Rohingya children, shelters, artwork, flowers, cultural traditions and also the crises we face in the camps, such as landslides, floods and fires. Although a few other Rohingyas don’t like having their photos taken for their privacy, most are genuinely interested in photography and what we do by sharing it with the world.
I am a genocide survivor. I live with my family and we have suffered without freedom, surviving an uncertain future for nearly five years in refugee camps after already facing decades of discrimination and violence in Myanmar.
People are not always able to express their feelings and photography takes courage, but here is our documentary on the crisis we face in these camps.
Find Yassine on Instagram @ro_yassin_abdumonab
Photography helps us let people know how we suffer. I take pictures of people who are still suffering as they live a life of refuge here. I take photos because I think they can help others understand the subjects of these photos and what they desire.
It makes me happy to take pictures, and when I want to raise an issue that my community is facing, I always choose to take pictures rather than write because it has a stronger impact on viewers.
Find Ro Anamul on Instagram @roanamul_hasan
I don’t remember exactly why I got into photography but I loved it from a very young age, even though I only started in 2017, with a small mobile phone. I even started making short films.
I love to take pictures and do it as often as possible, especially in nature and on the street, but I have to be careful because of the rules inside the camp – I don’t always feel safe to take photos. pictures here. Most people encourage me, although the reaction is mixed and some wonder if it is useful for me to build a career.
These images capture memories and testimonies, and record our lives for decades and times to come. A special image can help ease the chaos and reveal the unknown. It helps me mentally and also economically, and I can use it to really capture our society. I think these photos will be part of our history.
Find Mayyu on Instagram @mayyu_khan
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